Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Why is there a misconception that the EU has done the UK no good?

Following our ongoing discussions about the EU’s economic costs/benefits (as part of this apparent series – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – trying to cut through the spin about the EU and get to the facts), from a letter in today’s European Voice, four points I hope to return to in more detail soon:

Regional policy was introduced to benefit the UK when it joined the EU and, in general, it did a good job of cushioning the UK’s conversion away from heavy industry. So why is there a massive misconception in the UK that the EU has done it no good?

Firstly, EU money has very often been spent without advertising it as EU money.

Secondly, the English seem to think the country’s growth since the early 1980s was all down to Margaret Thatcher. But all EU countries enjoyed a boom of sorts for about ten years after accession. If the UK’s growth is down to anyone, it is down to Ted Heath, who took it into the EU.

Thirdly, people overlook the ‘single-market effect’: outside companies wishing to reside in the single-market area frequently prefer a location where English is spoken.

Fourthly, UK politicians’ excessive use of spin has robbed the EU of credit and, worse, has often unfairly blamed it for problems.

The second point is poorly put and hard to justify, but the rest succinctly outlines some of the fundamentals. The first and fourth points in particular are vital in understanding why people have such a low opinion of the EU. More on this soon, I hope…